Department of Mathematics Education
Wasting Water is an activity in which students gather data to find
a trend. Students are asked to make a
scatter plot of the amount of water leaked by time and approximate a line of
best fit. Then they research the same
set of data with Excel spreadsheet and find a linear equation that models it.
To motivate the students, discuss a faucet dripping. Ask students what amount of water is
lost. Ask students what they think will
happen when the water leaks through the cup.
Do they think the amount of water that is leaking through the cup will
increase, decrease, or stay the same? Do
they think there will be a time when the amount of water will level off?
The materials you will
need are paper cups, paper
clips, graduated cylinders, timers, and handouts. You can have the students work in
groups of three. One person will record
the data, one person holds the cup over the graduated cylinder and at the
beginning of the experiment, makes a hole in the bottom of the cup, and one
person reads the measurement in five second intervals. Pour water into the cups, make a hole in the
bottom, and hold your finger over the hole until the experiment begins. When the timer says to begin, remove your
finger and let the water start dripping.
BE PREPARED! Every five seconds,
measure the water level in the graduated cylinder and record the data in the
table. At the end of 60 seconds the
experiment is over. Make sure you have
recorded all of the data in the table.
Pour any remaining water into the graduated cylinder. Graph and analyze your data using Excel and
Excel spreadsheet is optional. In higher
classes, the students should be familiar with Excel. In lower classes, this would be a good way to
introduce it. Be
sure the students understand that the computer uses a well-defined algorithm,
so there will be only one right answer.
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